Both Gurdjieff and Ouspensky defined temptation as a process of deliberate deception carried on in esoteric schools to test pupils.
It is interesting to review the following major examples of temptation in the light of Gurdjieff's statement of the reason/purpose of temptation as a form of spiritual development. The Garden of Eden, the sacrifice of Isaac, Job and the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness, all illustrate age old spiritual "situations" which continue to challenge the spiritual pilgrim today.
"Life is a school" as Gurdjieff would say. There are so many psycho/spiritual lessons that need to be learned. In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve needed to learn what they were up against both within themselves as well as what they are up against in the outside world.
The ever-present serpent represents our loyal opposition in the psycho/spiritual realms. For every admonishment from God (the higher realms) we receive, there will always be a very convincing, compensating, counter argument.
It is in God's best interest as well as in our own best interest that the lower/lesser exist as something that we can sacrifice. Learning which voice to obey is one of the cornerstones of spiritual development.
The form of temptation Abraham faced when God asked him to sacrifice his son, Isaac, appears to be altogether different from the form of temptation that Adam and Eve encountered. For Abraham, the test was "will you sacrifice all that you have in order to obey My voice?"
Alan Watts once noted that if God were omniscient, then God would have known what Abraham's choice would have been well in advance. So why go through with it? Alan Watts speculated that the temptation was to show Abraham how much Abraham loved God and that God would always be there to preserve him.
In Job, we have the eternal wager between God and Satan over the soul of man. Job was someone to whom God was (also) well pleased. In the story of Job, we see God and Satan in a dialogue over the value of a "good" man:
"And the Lord said unto Satan: Hast thou considered my servant, Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and upright man, one that feareth God and escheweth evil?" Job 1:8
"Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, Doth Job fear God for naught? Haste not thou made a hedge about him, and about his house? But put forth thy hand now, and touch all that be hath and he will curse thee to thy face." Job 1:9, 1:10, 1:11
For Job, the temptation was whether Job would blame God and/or to cry out against God at what Job experienced as an "inexplicable" series of unending losses and misfortunes. Much of the temptation of Job was based upon Job's willingness to continue to believe in God when all appearances would indicate that God had somehow abandoned Job. Then, at the end, at the proverbial eleventh hour, God finally answers Job's pleas for an explanation by stating:
"Where wast thou when I laid the foundation of the earth?" Job 38:4 thereby, ending any further illusion that Job or anyone is in a position to judge
|Nowhere in the New Testament is the principle of temptation presented as a deliberate test than in the temptation of Jesus in the Wilderness. The Bible illustrates quite clearly, that no sooner had Jesus Christ been baptized by John The Baptist when God sent a dove and exclaimed, "Thou are my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased." Mark 1:12 "And [immediately] the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness, and He was there in the wilderness forty days tempted by Satan." Mark 1:13. For Jesus Christ, the temptation was to use his divine powers to enhance Himself.
||It is somewhat discouraging to note that God's approval is frequently followed by some form of temptation: God was pleased with Adam, Abraham, Job as well as Jesus Christ. Yet God had no trouble tempting all four of them. In three of the four examples given, God deliberately used Satan to test the Real Objective Level of being of Adam, Job and Jesus Christ.
God had Satan tempt Jesus according to Jesus' level of being. Few souls on the spiritual path of self-development need worry about being asked to turn any stone into bread, but all temptations have at their core the same central question:
"Whom do you serve, Thee or Me?"